In his Congressional Black Caucus Speech Obama Urges Black Community to ‘March With Me’

In a fiery speech to an important voting bloc, President Barack Obama told blacks on Saturday to quit crying and complaining and “put on your marching shoes” to follow him into battle for jobs and opportunity.

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (C) and Democratic Representative from New York Charles Rangel speak with US President Barack Obama as he greets wellwishers after addressing the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards at the Washington Convention Center.on September 24, 2011. Photo: Shantysue/Flickr

And besides he didn’t say it directly, for a second term, too. “I expect all of you to march with me, and press on,” Obama said. “… Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do.”

“You can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop,” Obama said. “Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause — widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity.”

The president presented a list of his legislative accomplishments that he said would benefit African American communities, including middle-class tax breaks, money for college education and summer jobs programs.

“Ask the family struggling to make ends meet if that extra few hundred dollars in their mother’s paycheck from the payroll tax cut we passed made a difference. They’ll tell you,” he said.

“Ask them how much that Earned Income Tax Credit or that Child Tax Credit makes a difference in paying the bills at the end of the month.”

The unemployment rate among African-Americans is 16.7%, nearly double the national average, while 40% of black children live in poverty. Such facts have made fiscal reforms a priority for caucus members, some of whom — most of them Democrats — have criticized Obama for not doing enough on the issue.

“It gets folks discouraged. I know. I listen to some of y’all,” Obama told an audience of some3,000 ina darkenedWashingtonconvention center.

But he said blacks need to have faith in the future – and understand that the fight won’t be won if they don’t rally to his side. “I need your help,” Obama said.

In his speech Saturday, Obama pointed out that the situation for many blacks is “heartbreaking, and it’s frustrating.” But he also mentioned achievements of his administration – such as on the earned income tax credit, anti-foreclosure programs and consumer financial protections – for making a difference, while admitting more work lies ahead.

He admitted that blacks have suffered mightily because of the recession, and are frustrated that the downturn is taking so long to reverse. “So many people are still hurting.

So many people are barely hanging on,” he said, then added: “And so many people in this city are fighting us every step of the way.”

“In these hard years, we have won a lot of fights (and) we’ve done a lot of good,” he said. “But we’ve got more work to do. People are still hurting.”

Obama promoted his recently proposed American Jobs Act during his speech, as well as his tax reform efforts to pay for the bill in part by closing loopholes and effectively having some wealthier Americans pay more in taxes than they do currently.

Obama said the package of payroll tax cuts, business tax breaks and infrastructure spending will benefit 100,000 black-owned businesses and 20 million African-American workers. Republicans have indicated they’re open to some of the tax measures — but oppose his means of paying for it: hiking taxes on top income-earners and big business.

“I never promised easy. Easy’s never been promised to us,” Obama declared, drawing applause from an audience that included celebrities and professional athletes. “I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I have to press on. You have to stop complaining, stop grumbling stop crying. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

“The future rewards those who press on,” he said. “I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”

Last year, Obama addressed the same dinner and implored blacks to get out the vote in the midterm elections because Republicans were preparing to “turn back the clock.”

This year’s caucus speech came as Obama began cranking up grass-roots efforts across the Democratic spectrum. [via Huff Post, CNN and Politico]

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